Once you’ve dined at this cliff top Bournemouth restaurant, anything else will struggle to reach the same heights, writes Nick Marshall
The minute you emerge from the lift on to the top floor of the Edge building in Alum Chine, you know you’ve found the right spot. Full-length windows look out over the beach and Poole Bay below, and at sunset you can watch the coast blush into shadow as far as Hengistbury Head to the east, and Old Harry Rocks to the west. But the restaurant’s outstanding achievement is that once the food starts to arrive, the view fades into the background.
The plush chairs, curved banquettes and neon lighting flourishes give a rather nightclubby feel to the restaurant, but white-gloved waiters and elegant table settings bring the tone back to fine dining. The best tables on a summer day would be on the terrace, while a private dining area upstairs has room for 25. Get in the mood beforehand with a cocktail in oneof the booths by the bar.
Chef Nick Hewitt, formerly of the award- winning Chewton Glen in New Milton and Bournemouth’s West Beach, is on a mission to change “risk-adverse” dining in the town. “I refused to do steak and chips,” he admits. The menu also doesn’t pay homage to seasonal or local produce. “It’s a bit of a cliché,” says Nick. “We’re closer to France than we are to London.” As a result, on top of the seafood from Poole and Portland, deliveries come in every Friday from France. According to Nick, men and women are catered for with specific items on the menu. These include bacon and pickled eggs for the former, and lighter items such as soufflé for the latter.
We start with Portland crab meat with English asparagus and avocado purée on one side, and homemade bacon with pickled quail eggs on the other. Both carry an amazingly fearsome depth of flavour. In fact, the bacon, which is salted, cured and pressed in-house over the course of a week, is still very much on my mind several days later. We’re also treated to a plate of cured scallops, cockles and brown shrimp served on a bed of pebbles, which is excellent. Scallops can usually be counted on as a reliable yardstick for the level of precision given to the menu in general, and these are just right.
The main course is roasted rump of lamb with rosemary polenta and mushroom purée, and roasted fillet of wild bass with squid gnocchi and chorizo. The fish is beautifully moist and sweet, and is set off wonderfully against the buttery, salty sauce. The lamb, yet again, is cooked perfectly to just the right side of pink.
For dessert, salted caramel Arctic roll plays around with salt and sweet, but is a struggle to finish after such a culinary workout. The warm dark chocolate and orange fondant is suitably voluptuous.
It’s well worth starting with one of the classic cocktails at the bar, including the signature Edge Margarita. Beer and cider options are limited, but wines by the glass include French and Italian whites, Argentinian Malbec, Rioja, and Californian Merlot among others. Choose a bottle and the selection extends to some robust Burgundies, Bordeaux and New World reds, along with Chablis, Riesling and even Vinho Verde among the whites.
Six years in, and with plenty more left on the lease (despite the ongoing planning rumours), the Edge has deliberately positioned itself at the upper end of Bournemouth’s dining scene, a point which is reflected in the prices and absence of deals, discounts and offers. If you’re only in town for one evening, book ahead to secure a table. It may well be the highlight of the trip.
Edge, 4th Floor, 2 Studland Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH4 8JA